Mario Kart Tour – A Disappointing Flop


Anthony Bertollo, Staff Writer

Since 1992, Mario Kart has been taking the world by storm with its innovative racing game play, colorful rosters of unique characters, various racing tracks that keep you on your toes, and multiplayer options that always make for a thrilling experience. People have been able to play Mario Kart on many different platforms, whether it’s on the go with the Nintendo DS, sitting in the comfort of your home on the Nintendo Switch, or maybe one of the arcade cabinets that you may find at the nearest Dave and Busters. Just recently, Mario Kart has entered a new era of gaming after its latest installment, Mario Kart Tour, was released on IOS and Android smartphones on September 25, 2019. Although having Mario Kart on your smartphone at all times seems like an ingenious idea, the game is not as great as it sounds.

Online competitive game play is huge in the gaming world today, with modern Mario Kart installments tagging along with the option to play online. However, Mario Kart Tour is ONLY playable online. In fact, you cannot play the game unless you either have your data or WiFi turned on. In my opinion, it doesn’t really seem fair to the average player who is looking to kill time during a road trip. They may have to waste all of their data just to play the game. Arguably, one of the biggest problems with the game is that it lacks a local multiplayer option, which is grayed out on the menu screen. It’s one thing to eliminate the option of just playing offline against CPU, now you can’t even compete with your friends that could be sitting right next to you as you play!

When you begin to play Mario Kart Tour, you quickly realize the elephant in the room. When the player first downloads the game, the only character you start with is either Toad/Toadette. As you play, you are constantly unlocking new characters. Although this idea seems interesting, the game should give at least a handful of characters to start with. 

Upon beginning the first race, you realize that the controls are stiff and difficult to adjust to. In order to turn, you have to swipe back-and-forth on a vertical set screen. There’s no option to switch the game to a horizontal play style. This is a major disadvantage since you could easily lose the race over the rigid steering of the wheel. The item system is also defected because you have to swipe up and down in order to utilize your items. In every other Mario Kart game, you hold down a button to move forward/backwards, which makes the game more enjoyable. Therefore, if Mario Kart Tour used horizontal game play with on-screen buttons, it would provide a more entertaining experience. 

One thing Mario Kart is widely known for is its memorable race tracks that are complete with a unique roster of playable characters. However, Mario Kart Tour found a way to downgrade those qualities in the worst way possible. While every other Mario Kart game introduces new tracks that change up the formula of the game and brings back fan favorites from previous installments, Mario Kart Tour relies excessively on race tracks from previous installments. This lack of originality blocks the game from having its own identity. The roster of characters is also relatively small, with many skins of other characters. It also leaves out key characters in the Mario universe, such as Luigi, Bowser Jr, Wario, Waluigi, etc., as they are slated to be DLC in a newer update.

The cherry on top of this spoiled sundae is the amount of real-life money that goes into the game in order to access certain features. Mario Kart Tour features an in-game shop where numerous characters and vehicles can be purchased with the game’s rubies and coins, which are mostly accessible through completing missions and race cups. However, if you wanted to increase your number of coins without the missions and race cups, you have to pay with rubies. In order to gain more rubies, you have to pay with real money. The number of rubies you wish to purchase could cost up to $1.99 – $69.99. Although it makes sense to pay money for obtaining rubies with no in-game effort, it is still a pretty hefty price to pay. Moreover, to obtain things like certain sets (that include characters, courses, rubies, etc.) and a gold pass (which unlocks new modes on rewards), you’ll have to pay $19.99 for each set and $4.99 a month for the gold pass. The worst payment of all is that 2 weeks after downloading the game, you have to pay $4.99 A MONTH just to simply play the game. I find that idea quite mind-boggling since the app could have been purchased on the app store instead of charging its users a monthly fee.

Overall, I believe that Mario Kart Tour is NOT worth playing. The flawed controls make the game difficult to play and ultimately ruin the experience. Even if you disregard its mistakes, we can all agree that most people do not want to pay $4.99 a month just to play Mario Kart when they have many other options on other gaming consoles. The only real positive to the game is its appealing graphics. In total, everyone should fish out their old Nintendo handhelds and stick with those classics instead of wasting their money and time on the mediocrity of Mario Kart Tour.